Seeing Machines driving forwards

AIM-listed Seeing Machines is making great inroads into its target markets, yet the year end figures alone don’t really give much indication of this. Hence the price at around 4.5p has remained static. However, at this level it appears undervalued.

For the year to June 30, 2015 revenues grew 20% to A$21.2m, although this Australian company produced a thumping loss: A$10.2m (approx £4.7m), which was significantly up on the previous year’s A$2.7m. Moreover, cash outflow rose to A$21.5m, offset by a fundraise of A$10.8m, leaving net cash of A$14.4m.

Still this loss has to be seen in the context of a growth company that is investing heavily in R&D, sales and marketing while making good progress in cracking markets for its innovative driver safety software products aimed at 6 key global markets.

These markets are:

  • truck and mining equipment
  • commercial haulage fleets of trucks
  • cars
  • rail
  • aviation and simulators
  • consumer electronics.

Mining

It has successfully cracked the truck and mining equipment market with an alliance with Caterpillar, the largest manufacturer of such vehicles. Post the year end it announced that it had signed a US$17.5m deal with Caterpillar whereby Caterpillar will take over responsibility for manufacturing, marketing and sales of its DSS off-road product. In addition, to this payment (US$9m of which Seeing Machines will receive by January 2016), it will also receive royalty fees for DSS hardware, software licensing, monitoring and analytics services.

This is quite an achievement given the state the global mining industry is in and shows that even in markets hit by macroeconomic turmoil, the benefits of its products are unquestionable and it can deliver growth.

Commercial fleets

Caterpillar will also distribute its ‘Fleet’ product, which was launched in April. Given that the company is estimated to have over 3m vehicles in this area it bodes well for future growth in this segment.

The fleet product is essentially a cheaper version of its caterpillar driver monitoring system designed specifically for trucks, busses and other commercial fleet vehicles. It provides drivers and supervisors with real-time notice of when a driver is either tired or distracted. It has already made its first order for 750 units in South Africa and has put in place distribution networks around the globe.

Cars

It’s perhaps the development in the car industry that are really going to grab headline over the next couple of years and hopefully increase its profile among the general public. Here it has been working with a Tier 1 automotive safety supplier Takata. Its first product in this market is likely to be launched at the Los Angeles Car Auto Show in November. It will be in the Chevvy Super Cruise from General Motors, which will be on sale in 2016.

In addition, it is working with a number of other auto-manufacturers on safety and entertainment systems so the prospects for further launches appear excellent.

The quality of its partnerships is also quite staggering for a £45m small cap. In the area of aviation it is working with Boeing to develop a pilot monitoring system. One has been installed in a Boeing Flight Services 737 Flight Simulator at the Brisbane International Airport. They are also working with a subsidiary of Caterpillar, EMD to develop a train driver monitoring system. Lastly, in consumer electronics they are working with Samsung on televisions that can monitor audience reaction. Most companies would probably be viewed as a bright prospect working with these alone.

Analyst view

Lorne Daniel, analyst at house broker finnCap has forecast a small adjusted pre-tax profit of A$0.8m in 2016 on revenues of A$43.2m. Revenues are anticipated as falling slightly in 2017 to A$43.2m with an adjusted pre-tax loss of A$9.1m as the exceptional boost from the Caterpillar deal falls out of the figures. However, he sees the business taking off in 2018, forecasting sales of A$65.8m and an adjusted pre-tax profit of A$8.3m.

Despite the company investing almost £15m a year, it appears fully funded for profitability. Of course, given the scale of its ambition it is just possible that it could raise more to finance another ‘transformational’ partnership.

When I spoke with Lorne Daniel he was certainly very enthusiastic about the company. Indeed, in a note issued on September 22 he estimated the mid-term value of the company at £480m based purely on a sum of the parts valuation on the prospects for the Caterpillar/DSS, OEM auto and fleet businesses.

I’ll quote his concluding paragraphs to explain how keen he is on the company. “This is not a blue sky valuation. There is little if any credible competition in its markets, and revenues are already flowing from them. There evidentially little risk in the CAT business; there is a strong pipeline for the automotive OEM opportunity; and straightforward execution risk in the commercial fleet business. We have ascribed no value at all to the rail, aviation or consumer electronics market opportunities at this stage.

Even discounting the above £480m valuation of a mature business by 75% for the risk and time needed to achieve these sales levels would suggest a £120m value or 12p per share target price at a minimum.”

It is hard not to agree that Seeing Machines is terribly undervalued, particularly if you look at the valuation of a peer called Mobileye. This US-listed, Israeli company develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation. Its systems appear less impressive than Seeing Machines and fortunately non-competitive, although the company is already making solid profits and is valued at US$10bn.

Prospects

Seeing Machines’ technology is proven, as are the deal making skills of its management. Coupled with the realistic prospects for the future this seems as close to a multi-bagging one-way bet as you could wish for.

Of course, it may get taken out by a bigger company long before then. Market Eye certainly has the cash to do it and acting soon would mean paying a fraction of the price it would cost to buy this Aussie innovator in a couple of years.

Alternatively, given the progress this company is making in actually enabling computers to see and gauge human reactions, it would be no surprise if Google or Apple already have their eyes on Seeing Machines.

The writer holds shares in Seeing Machines.

You should always conduct your own research before investing.

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